A young girl buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware that inside the collectible lives a malicious ancient spirit. The girl's father teams with his ex-wife to find a way to end the curse upon their child.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
The timely story of a normal family disintegrating under financial pressure, eventually driven to the unimaginable. We witness the terrifying events unfold through daughter Judith's video camera, which subsequently becomes Exhibit A.
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the evangelical Reverend Cotton Marcus was raised by his father to be a preacher. He agrees that the filmmaker Iris Reisen and the cameraman Daniel Moskowitz make a documentary about his life. Cotton tells that when his wife Shanna Marcus had troubles in the delivery of their son Justin, he prioritized the doctor help to God and since then he questions his faith. Further, he tells that exorcisms are frauds but the results are good for the believers because they believe it is true. When Cotton is summoned by the farmer Louis Sweetzer to perform an exorcism in his daughter Nell, Cotton sees the chance to prove to the documentary crew what he has just told. They head to Ivanwood and they have a hostile reception from Louis's son Caleb. Cotton performs the exorcism in Nell, exposing his tricks to the camera, but sooner they learn that the dysfunctional Sweetzer family has serious problems. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The whole setup here is that we have a professional actor - paid to put on shows about fire and brimstone - who will need to discern over the course of the film who is putting on the show he finds himself in. A film crew is turning this into a movie, presumed to reveal hidden mechanisms that move spectators. Turns out something else is controlling the thing and moving parts we thought we knew all about and possibly us. This will test his mettle as a showman himself, let's say his faith in the healing power of his act (art?). Is the girl acting out some repressed sexual trauma? Is the father, at the same time covering his tracks with Jesus babble? Or is the demon, the great trickster? (a mild problem here is that, the film being what it is, we never really wonder, do we?)
This is excellent stuff and could have worked as more than horror. Indeed, until the last part horror is intermittent here. Our focus is on juggling one show as part of another while getting to decide which one horrifies more. The choice for 'found footage' is one of the better applications I've seen in terms of structure; it means we have one more show running behind the other two, and one that we use to look for the real root of horror. There are many dramatic shots in the flow, but we can chalk these to the presence of a professional cameraman.
The ending has been reported as problematic. Oh, it is graphic but in ways that have become a staple in films dealing with some extraordinary demonic darkness; Polanski, Rosemary as well as Ninth Gate, the Hammer shocker The Devil Rides Out, Night of the Demon, recently Drag me to Hell. Many viewers bemoan the revelation and tend to prefer the whole thing coated in whispers and rumors. Fair point.
It works for me because it allows us to recast evil as another staged trick. Another group of people are brought in at the last moment to enact a show, the real deal this time. Real fire and brimstone. Death comes as storyboarded earlier.
If you're interested in the scam priest angle, it's only a light-hearted jab at faith here. Watch Marjoe for a more chilling portrait, the '72 documentary on the "World's Youngest Ordained Minister".
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